Four Birmingham Lakes for the Bucket List

John Coley
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Alabama is home to some of the most beautiful and easily accessible lakes in the country. In fact, the only difficult thing about planning a day out on the water is choosing where to dip your toes. Here is RootsRated’s guide to the top 4 lakes in Alabama, relatively near Birmingham.

1. Lewis Smith Lake

Located about an hour north of Birmingham and slightly more than that from Huntsville, Lewis Smith Lake is known for some of the cleanest water in the country. Fed by rivers and streams from the surrounding Bankhead National Forest, the water is unpolluted and as pristine as you’ll find anywhere throughout the southeast. The lake is also deep and steep with much of the 500 mile shoreline made up of high cliffs and rocky bluffs that make for great sunbathing, cliff jumping, or rope swinging hang outs.

Clear Creek, Bankhead National Forest
Clear Creek, Bankhead National Forest Rian Castillo

There are plenty of rental cabins available through VRBO as well as one of our top rated campsites ( Clear Creek Campground ) for multi-day visits, but if you're looking to make just a day trip we suggest renting a SUP from Smith Lake Paddle Boards and exploring the lake to find your own private cove or beach.

2. Double Oak Lake

Rian Castillo

Double Oak Lake is located in Oak Mountain State Park . On hot weekend afternoons, it’s one of the most popular lakes in the state. While the crowds at the beach can be overwhelming, an early morning or weekday visit will allow you enough solitude and space to make this feel like it’s your own private oasis.

The lake has a small marina which offers standup paddling and sit-on-top kayak rentals, and within the park there are plenty of options for other activities to make a full day filled with adventure and sporadic dips in the the lake to cool off and refresh.

3. Lake Guntersville

Christen Biddle

Consistently voted as Alabamians favorite lake, Lake Guntersville is also the largest in the state. Stretching 75 miles in the northeast corner of the state, the lake is home to Bald Eagles, towering cliffs and Lake Guntersville State Park. The park offers camping, cabins, lodging, hiking and biking trails, and there are boat, kayak and SUP rentals available through either Alabama SUP or Town Creek  (located in the state park).

4. Lake Martin

John Coley

With a reputation as ‘Alabama’s favorite party lake’ this 44,000-acre lake still makes our list because of its beauty, naturally wooded shoreline (750 miles worth) and a place called Acapulco Rock. This 60-foot rock face is a popular cliff jumping destination on the lake. While the climb and jump from the highest point are not for the faint of heart, there are other options on lower ledges where you can build up your courage.

On the shores of the lake is Wind Creek State Park. Here you’ll find camping, picnic areas, trails and a marina.

Pack your swimsuit and head out to explore one of these great lakes while summer is still here.

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